Featuring both Heart Awareness Month and Valentine’s Day, February is a month full of heart: both metaphorical and literal. We feel it’s fitting to combine the two with a heart-healthy celebration to celebrate both events. With this 3-course meal, you and your Valentine can indulge in tasty fare and romance throughout the night.
First Course: Marinated Shrimp (Recipe from the Mayo Clinic)
This is definitely not your average shrimp cocktail. The shrimp is marinated in lime juice rather than bathed in a heavy sauce, and it has a kick of flavor from the Dijon mustard and hot sauce. The recipe does require about an hour of refrigeration ahead of time, so keep that in mind when planning the meal.
- 1 medium red onion, chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh lime juice, plus lime zest as garnish
- 2 tablespoons capers
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup rice vinegar
- 3 whole cloves
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 pound uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
- In a shallow baking dish, combine the onion, lime juice, capers, mustard, and hot sauce. Set aside.
- In a large saucepan, add the water, vinegar, cloves, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and add the shrimp. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Drain and transfer the shrimp to the shallow dish containing the onion mixture, making sure to discard the cloves and bay leaf. Stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled (about 1 hour).
- To serve, divide the shrimp mixture among individual small bowls and garnish each with lime zest. Serve cold.
Second Course: Chicken Piccata (Recipe from the American Heart Association)
This delicious heart-healthy recipe is perfect for Valentine’s Day dinner. It has that classic Italian taste without all of the butter and salt that regular recipes require. It appears to be pretty easy to prepare, which makes it a great fit for cooks with varying levels of experience.
- 8 oz. whole-wheat angel hair or spaghetti pasta
- 2 tbsp. whole-wheat flour
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, all visible fat discarded, butterflied
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 cup sliced, fresh mushrooms
- 2 tsp. garlic, jarred, minced
- 2 tbsp. lemon juice
- 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken stock
- 2 tsp. salt-free, (or), low-sodium Italian seasoning
- 2 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
- Prepare pasta to package directions. Drain, rinse and set aside.
- Mix flour and pepper in a shallow dish. One at a time, place chicken pieces in flour mixture and turn to coat.
- Spray a large skillet with olive oil, turn to medium heat, and add chicken. Cook until no longer pink inside (3-4 minutes per side).
- Transfer chicken to a plate and set aside.
- Re-spray skillet with olive oil, turn heat to medium-high, and cook mushrooms for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add garlic, lemon juice, and chicken stock. Stir and cook for 2 minutes.
- Add Italian Seasoning and zucchini, bring to a simmer, and cook about 5 minutes until zucchini is tender.
- Toss pasta in the skillet with sauce. Serve topped with chicken.
Third Course: Warm Chocolate Souffles (Recipe from the Mayo Clinic)
What woman doesn’t enjoy a little chocolate after dinner? This dessert would make the perfect ending to a wonderful dinner. And believe it or not, these sweet little dishes of deliciousness are actually heart-healthy. The use of unsweetened cocoa powder rather than sweetened helps the recipe be heart-healthy, and it doesn’t impact the sweet taste, thanks to the other sweet ingredients like honey.
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 6 tbsp. hot water
- 1 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp. canola oil
- 3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp. ground hazelnuts or almonds
- 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 3 tbsp. firmly packed dark brown sugar
- 2 tbsp. honey
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 3/4 cup 1 percent low-fat milk
- 4 egg whites
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon confectioners’ sugar
- 1 cup raspberries
- Preheat the oven to 375 F. Lightly coat six 1-cup individual souffle dishes or ramekins with cooking spray or coat a 6-cup souffle dish with the spray.
- In a small bowl, combine the cocoa and hot water, stirring until smooth. Set aside.
- In a small, heavy saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the canola oil and stir to combine. Add the flour, ground hazelnuts, and cinnamon and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly with a whisk. Stir in the brown sugar, honey, and salt. Gradually add the milk and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened (about 3 minutes). Remove from the heat and stir into the cocoa mixture. Let cool slightly.
- In a large, thoroughly cleaned bowl, using an electric mixer on high speed, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the granulated sugar 1 tablespoon at a time and beat until stiff peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the cocoa mixture to lighten it. Then fold the remaining egg whites into the cocoa mixture, mixing gently only until no white streaks remain.
- Gently scoop the cocoa egg white mixture into the prepared dishes (or dish). Bake until the souffle rises above the rim and is set in the center, 15 to 20 minutes for individual souffles or 40 to 45 minutes for the large souffle. Cool the souffles on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes. Using a fine-mesh sieve, dust the top with the confectioners’ sugar. Garnish with raspberries and serve immediately.
Well, doesn’t that meal sound tasty? And we did it all by paying attention to the hearts in our bodies AND souls!
What recommendations do you have for a heart-healthy Valentine’s Day meal? Share your ideas and recipes in the comments!